|Formation||February 25, 1914|
|Legal status||501(c)(3) nonprofit organization|
|Jonathan Karl (ABC News)|
The White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) is an organization of journalists who cover the White House and the President of the United States. The WHCA was founded on February 25, 1914 by journalists in response to an unfounded rumor that a United States congressional committee would select which journalists could attend press conferences of President Woodrow Wilson.
The WHCA operates independently of the White House. Among the more notable issues handled by the WHCA are the credentialing process, access to the President and physical conditions in the White House press briefing rooms. Its most high-profile activity is the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner, which is traditionally attended by the President and covered by the news media.
Not every member of the White House press corps is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association.
The current leadership team of the White House Correspondents' Association includes:
The WHCA's annual dinner, begun in 1921, has become a Washington, D.C. tradition and is traditionally attended by the president and vice president. Fifteen presidents have attended at least one WHCA dinner, beginning with Calvin Coolidge in 1924. The dinner is traditionally held on the evening of the last Saturday in April at the Washington Hilton.
Until 1962, the dinner was open only to men, even though WHCA's membership included women. At the urging of Helen Thomas, President John F. Kennedy refused to attend the dinner unless the ban on women was dropped.
Prior to World War II, the annual dinner featured singing between courses, a homemade movie, and an hour-long, post-dinner show with big-name performers. Since 1983, the featured speaker has usually been a comedian, with the dinner taking on the form of a 'roast' of the president and his administration.
Many annual dinners have been cancelled or downsized due to deaths or political crises. The dinner was cancelled in 1930 due to the death of former president William Howard Taft; in 1942, following the United States' entry into World War II; and in 1951, over what President Harry S. Truman called the "uncertainty of the world situation". In 1981, Ronald Reagan did not attend because he was recuperating after the attempted assassination the previous month, but he did phone in and told a joke about the shooting.
President Donald Trump did not attend the dinners in 2017 and 2018, but indicated in a tweet that he might attend in 2019 since this dinner did not feature a comedian as the featured speaker. However, on April 5, 2019, he announced that he again would not attend, calling the dinner "so boring, and so negative," instead hosting a political rally that evening in Wisconsin. On April 22, Trump ordered a boycott of the dinner, with White House Cabinet Secretary Bill McGinley, who oversees the cabinet agencies for the president, assembling the agencies' chiefs of staff to issue a directive that members of the administration not attend. However, some members of the administration attended pre- and post- dinner parties.
The WHCD has been increasingly criticized as an example of the coziness between the White House press corps and the administration. The dinner has typically included a skit, either live or videotaped, by the sitting U.S. president in which he mocks himself, for the amusement of the press corps. The press corps, in turn, hobnobs with administration officials, even those who are unpopular and are not regularly cooperative with the press. Increasing scrutiny by bloggers has contributed to added public focus on this friendliness.
After the 2007 dinner, New York Times columnist Frank Rich implied that the Times would no longer participate in the dinners. Rich wrote that the dinner had become "a crystallization of the press's failures in the post-9/11 era" because it "illustrates how easily a propaganda-driven White House can enlist the Washington news media in its shows".
Other criticism has focused on the amount of money actually raised for scholarships, which has decreased over the past few years.
The dinners have drawn increasing public attention, and the guest list grows "more Hollywood". The attention given to the guest list and entertainers often overshadows the intended purpose of the dinner, which is to "acknowledge award-winners, present scholarships, and give the press and the president an evening of friendly appreciation". This has led to an atmosphere of coming to the event only to "see and be seen". This usually takes place at pre-dinner receptions and post-dinner parties hosted by various media organizations, which are often a bigger draw and can be more exclusive than the dinners themselves.
The public airings of the controversies around the dinner from the mid-2000s onward gradually focused concern about the nature of the event. While interest in the event from entertainers, journalists, and political figures was high during the Obama administration, by the period of the Trump administration, interest gradually slowed in attending, especially for Hollywood figures who did not want to be caught on-camera during a potential viral moment gone bad or to spend extended amounts of time with Trump administration officials. Business related to the weekend event slowed considerably, including at hotels, high-end restaurants, salons, caterers, and limo companies.
During the Trump administration, some media companies stopped hosting parties, while other of the roughly 25 events held during the three-day period gained more prominence as signs of social status.
By 2019, the dinner and associated parties had returned somewhat to their previous nature as networking and media functions, with packed houses of media industry employees and Washington political figures.
|1944||Bob Hope, Fritz Kreisler, Gracie Fields, Mexican tenor Pedro Vargas, Fred Waring, Elsie Janis, Ed Gardiner, Nan Merriman, Robert Merrill, and NBC musical director Frank Black with a 40-piece orchestra.|
|1945||Frank Sinatra, Danny Thomas, Jimmy Durante, Fanny Brice, Danny Kaye, and Garry Moore shared hosting duties.|
|1946||Ed Sullivan (host); featured performers included Herb Shriner, Señor Wences, Paul Draper, Larry Adler, and Sugar Chile Robinson, a child piano prodigy who was the first African American perfomer at the event.|
|1954||Milton Berle, The Four Step Brothers,Jaye P. Morgan, The McGuire Sisters, and Irving Berlin performed.||Berlin performed an original song, "I Still Like Ike," to honor President Eisenhower.|
|1956||James Cagney emceed; Nat King Cole, Patti Page, and Dizzy Gillespie performed.|
|1961||The Peiro Brothers (jugglers), Julie London, Dorothy Provine, violinist Mischa Elman, opera singer Jerome Hines|
|1962||Peter Sellers, Gwen Verdon, Richard Goodman, and Benny Goodman shared hosting duties.||Event opened to female correspondents for the first time.|
|1963||Merv Griffin emceed; Barbra Streisand performed.|
|1964||Duke Ellington, the Smothers Brothers|
|1969||The Disneyland Golden Horseshoe Revue|
|April 14, 1973|
|May 3, 1975||Danny Thomas and Marlo Thomas|
|1976||Bob Hope emceed and Chevy Chase performed.||When President Ford rose to speak, he pretended to fumble, and began his speech with "Good evening. I'm Gerald Ford and you're not"--a reference to Chase's catchphrase from Saturday Night Lives Weekend Update.|
|April 28, 1979|
|April 25, 1981|
|April 17, 1986||Dick Cavett|
|April 21, 1988||Yakov Smirnoff|
|1989||Jim Morris (Bush impersonator)||Garry Shandling made a surprise appearance.|
|1992||Paula Poundstone||Poundstone was the first solo female host.|
|May 1, 1993||Elayne Boosler||This was the first year that the dinner was televised on C-SPAN.|
|April 23, 1994||Al Franken|
|April 29, 1995||Conan O'Brien|
|May 4, 1996||Al Franken|
|April 26, 1997||Jon Stewart||Norm Macdonald delivered a Weekend Update parody.|
|April 25, 1998||Ray Romano|
|May 1, 1999||Aretha Franklin||NBC's Brian Williams performed a skit.|
|April 29, 2000||Jay Leno||President Bill Clinton also mocked himself in the short film President Clinton: The Final Days, which depicted him as a lonely man closing down a nearly deserted White House, riding a bicycle, and learning about the Internet with the help of actor Mike Maronna.|
|April 28, 2001||Darrell Hammond|
|May 4, 2002||Drew Carey|
|April 26, 2003||Ray Charles||President George W. Bush decided to eschew a comedian that year, given the recent invasion of Iraq.|
|May 1, 2004||Jay Leno|
|April 30, 2005||Cedric the Entertainer||First Lady Laura Bush also performed some jokes.|
|April 29, 2006||Stephen Colbert||Colbert performed his television satire of a right-wing cable television pundit. Several of President Bush's aides and supporters walked out during Colbert's speech, and one former aide said that the President had "that look that he's ready to blow".Steve Bridges also performed a Bush impersonation.|
|April 21, 2007||Rich Little||David Letterman appeared by video with a Top 10 list of "favorite George W. Bush moments".|
|April 26, 2008||Craig Ferguson||Like his Late Late Show monologues, Ferguson appeared to go off script and started improvising new jokes. It was noted that President Bush had difficulty understanding Ferguson's Scottish accent.|
|May 9, 2009||Wanda Sykes|
|May 1, 2010||Jay Leno||Leno hosted for the fourth time, more than any other individual in the dinner's history. Leno had been chosen several weeks before his controversial Tonight Show conflict, and his use of recycled jokes was noted by critics.|
|April 30, 2011||Seth Meyers||Both President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates were seen laughing at Meyers' jokes about the government's apparent inability to track down Osama Bin Laden, even though they were a day away from the operation to assassinate him.
President Obama and Meyers also mocked then-Celebrity Apprentice host Donald Trump's role as the face of the birther movement. Trump would go on to be elected President of the United States five years later in the 2016 United States presidential election. Journalists that were present at the dinner say that being mocked by President Obama and Meyers led him to decide to run for President of the United States, but Trump would later deny this, saying that he had been considering running for President for many years prior to the dinner.
|April 28, 2012||Jimmy Kimmel|
|April 27, 2013||Conan O'Brien|
|May 3, 2014||Joel McHale|
|April 25, 2015||Cecily Strong||Keegan-Michael Key made a guest appearance as President Obama's "anger translator", Luther, a recurring character from the Comedy Central show Key & Peele.|
|April 30, 2016||Larry Wilmore||Wilmore delivered a controversial, searing routine targeting the president, elite media, lobbyists, politicians, and celebrities. At the end of the speech, Wilmore ended his set by thanking President Obama for having been the country's first black President and finished his speech by calling him "my nigga" on live television. This remark sparked controversy among the media, with some calling it disrespectful.|
|April 29, 2017||Hasan Minhaj||President Donald Trump did not attend the dinner. The last time a sitting president did not attend in person was Ronald Reagan in 1981, who was recovering from an assassination attempt.|
|April 28, 2018||Michelle Wolf||President Trump did not attend the dinner for the second consecutive year. Instead, he sent his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.|
Wolf received both praise and criticism for her monologue. The association released a rare statement regarding the monologue. After the dinner, newspaper The Hill informed the WHCA that it would no longer participate in the event, saying, "In short, there's simply no reason for us to participate in something that casts our profession in a poor light. Major changes are needed to the annual event."
|April 27, 2019||Ron Chernow||President Trump did not attend the dinner for the third consecutive year. Additionally, Trump ordered some of his staff and administration members to boycott the dinner.|
Awarded for outstanding examples of deadline reporting.
|Year||Recipient||Distinction||Employer||Article / Show||Notes & Ref|
|2000||Gary Nurenberg||Broadcast||KTLA-Tribune Broadcasting|||
|Jodi Enda||Knight-Ridder Newspapers|||
|2001||Jim Angle||Broadcast||Fox News Channel|||
|Sandra Sobieraj||Associated Press|||
|2002||Peter Maer||Broadcast||CBS News|||
|Ron Fournier||Associated Press|||
|2003||Jim Angle||Broadcast||Fox News Channel|||
|David Sanger||The New York Times|||
|2004||Mike Allen||The Washington Post|||
|2005||Ron Fournier||Associated Press|||
|Jackie Calmes||The Wall Street Journal||Honorable Mention|
|2006||Terry Moran||Broadcast||ABC News|||
|Deb Riechmann||Associated Press|||
|2007||Martha Raddatz||Broadcast||ABC News|||
|David Sanger||The New York Times|||
|Deb Riechmann||Associated Press|||
|Sandra Sobieraj Westfall||People magazine|||
|2010||Jake Tapper||Broadcast||ABC News|||
|Ben Feller||Associated Press|||
|2011||Jake Tapper||Broadcast||ABC News|||
|Dan Balz||The Washington Post|||
|2012||Jake Tapper||Broadcast||ABC News|||
|Glenn Thrush, Carrie Budoff Brown, Manu Raju and John Bresnahan||Politico||"Excellence in presidential coverage under pressure"|||
|2013||Terry Morgan||Broadcast||ABC News|||
|Julie Pace||Associated Press|
|2014||Peter Maer||Broadcast||CBS News||"Sequestration"|||
|Peter Baker||The New York Times||"Obama Seeks Approval by Congress for Strike in Syria"|
|2015||Jim Avila||Broadcast||ABC News||Cuba/Alan Gross|||
|Josh Lederman||Associated Press||Fence Jumper|
|2016||Norah O'Donnell||Broadcast||CBS News|||
|Matt Viser||The Boston Globe|
|2017||Edward-Isaac Dovere||Politico||"How Obama set a trap for Raul Castro"|||
|2018||Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper and Carl Bernstein||Broadcast||CNN|||
|2019||Ed Henry||Broadcast||Fox News|||
|Josh Dawsey||Washington Submit|
Awarded for journalistic excellence.
|2000||Jeanne Cummings||The Wall Street Journal|||
|2001||Steve Thomma||Knight Ridder|||
|2002||Anne E. Kornblut||The Boston Globe|||
|2003||Dana Milbank||The Washington Post|||
|2004||David Sanger||The New York Times|||
|2005||Susan Page||USA Today|||
|2006||Carl Cannon||National Journal|||
|2007||Kenneth T. Walsh||U.S. News & World Report|||
|2008||Alexis Simendinger||National Journal|||
|2009||Michael Abramowitz||The Washington Post|||
|2010||Mark Knoller||CBS News|||
|2011||Peter Baker||The New York Times|||
|2012||Scott Wilson||The Washington Post|||
|2013||Ryan Lizza||The New Yorker|||
|2015||Peter Baker||The New York Times|||
|2016||Carol Lee||The Wall Street Journal|||
|2017||Greg Jaffe||The Washington Post|||
|2018||Maggie Haberman||The New York Times|||
Awarded for excellence on a story of national or regional significance.
|Year||Recipient||Employer||Notes & Ref|
|2000||Sam Roe||The Toledo Blade|||
|2001||Elizabeth Marchak, Dave Davis, and Joan Mazzolini||The Plain Dealer|||
|John Barry and Evan Thomas||Newsweek||Honorable Mention|
|David Pace||Associated Press||Honorable Mention|
|2002||Evan Thomas, Mark Hosenball, Martha Brant, and Roy Gutman||Newsweek|||
|Staff||The Seattle Times||Honorable Mention|
|Staff||The Dayton Daily News||Honorable Mention|
|2003||Sean Naylor||Army Times|||
|Staff||South Florida Sun-Sentinel||Honorable Mention|
|Michael Berens||Chicago Tribune||Honorable Mention|
|2004||Russell Corollo and Mei-ling Hopgood||Dayton Daily News|||
|Christopher H. Schmitt and Edward T. Pound||U.S. News & World Report||Honorable Mention|
|Michael Hudson||Southern Exposure magazine||Honorable Mention|
|Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landy||Knight Ridder||Honorable Mention|
|Rod Nordland and Michael Hirsh||Newsweek||Honorable Mention|
|Sami Yousafzai, Ron Moreau, and Michael Hirsh||Newsweek||Honorable Mention|
|Fareed Zakaria||Newsweek||Honorable Mention|
|2005||Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams||The San Francisco Chronicle|||
|Donald Barlett and James Steele||Time magazine||Honorable Mention|
|2006||Marcus Stern and Jerry Kammer||Copley News Service|||
|Staff||Time magazine||Honorable Mention|
|Russell Carollo and Larry Kaplow||Dayton Daily News||Honorable Mention|
|2007||Joan Ryan||The San Francisco Chronicle|||
|2008||Paul Shukovsky, Tracy Johnson, and Daniel Lathrop||Seattle Post-Intelligencer|||
|2009||Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong||The Seattle Times|||
|2010||Suzanne Bohan and Sandy Kleffman||Contra Costa Times, California|||
|2011||Michael Berens||The Seattle Times|||
|2012||Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley||Associated Press|||
|2013||Jim Morris, Chris Hamby, Ronnie Greene||The Center for Public Integrity (CPI)||Hard Labor|||
|2014||Megan Twohey||Reuters||"The Child Exchange: Inside America's Underground Market for Adopted Children,"|||
|Chris Hamby, Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross||The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) and ABC News||"Breathless and Burdened: Dying from black lung, buried by law and medicine,"|
|2015||Gary Fields, John R. Emshwiller, Rob Barry and Coulter Jones||Wall Street Journal||"America's Rap Sheet"|||
|Carol A. Leonnig||The Washington Post||"Secret Service"|
|2016||Neela Banerjee, John Cushman Jr., David Hasemyer and Lisa Song||InsideClimate News|||
|Terrence McCoy||The Washington Post|
|2017||David Fahrenthold||The Washington Post|||
|2018||Jason Szep, Peter Eisler, Tim Reid, Lisa Girion, Grant Smith and team||Reuters||"Shock Tactics"|||
|Norah O'Donnell||CBS This Morning||Sexual Assault in the Air Force Academy||Honorable Mention|
|Dan Diamond and Rachana Pradhan||Politico||Tom Price's Private Jet Travel||Honorable Mention|
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